UFC Fight Night 191: Brunson vs Till Predictions

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UFC Fight Night 191: Brunson vs Till Predictions & Results

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Well, UFC Fight Night 191 may lead the running in the ‘most cursed fight card’ of the year. Originally destined for the UK, explaining the long list of British fighters featured, it is now being held at the UFC Apex. The location hasn’t been the only knock to the event. With several cancelled match-ups, last-minute replacements and Paddy Pimblett’s introduction to the big time, it seems as though it will be ugly viewing. Yet digging deep into the card reveals a handful of intriguing fights that have the potential to draw top entertainment. For the first time in a while, this is a Fight Night that has me excited.

It was a long time coming, yet Scouse sensation, Paddy Pimblett, finally has the opportunity to light up the UFC | UFC Fight Night 191
It was a long time coming, yet Scouse sensation, Paddy Pimblett, finally has the opportunity to light up the UFC | UFC Fight Night 191

UFC Fight Night 191: Main Event

Derek Brunson (22-7) vs Darren Till (18-3-1)

Middleweight (185)

Derek Brunson

Oh, Dereck. We’ve been here so many times before. Typically, after Brunson carves out a tasty little run for himself, he is knocked straight back to his role as perennial Middleweight gatekeeper. While many will point to a handsome four-fight win streak, the longest in his career post-2016, it hasn’t been the most glamorous. Elias Theodorou was an ugly, tippy-tappy match, Ian Heinisch failed to meet the necessary defensive wrestling requirements, and Kevin Holland simply cannot keep himself standing. Yet even within this favourable run, Brunson claimed his greatest scalp of recent memory over Edmen Shahbazyan. The hot prospect was expected to walk over Brunson, yet the American deployed a perfect showcasing of striking transitioning into wrestling.

The same old frustrating issues remain with Brunson. Defensively exposed at the start of a fight, Brunson’s aggression and high chin often result in him eating heavy shots early. While he was able to shrug off a clean head kick by Ian Heinisch in the first seven seconds of their fight, more heavier-handed foes have exploited this. Adesanya, Jacare, and Whittaker all secured first-round stoppages after a wild Brunson opening. Till’s counter straight left is primed to snapping Brunson’s jaw early, it just depends whether the veteran has the durability to bear it.

Still, Brunson’s front-foot aggression is somewhat justifiable as it enables him to level the striking playing field against more technical opponents. Thriving at an uncomfortably short striking range, Brunson can land his powerful overhands and left high kick, while pursuing a takedown in the ensuing chaos. Till doesn’t appear to have fearful one-shot KO power, neither at Welterweight or Middleweight. Better yet, Till cannot fall back into the clinch to smother inside work as he did against Kelvin Gastelum. Brunson is a superior wrestler, natural at 185 and would be able to dirty box from a collar tie. If the thirty-seven-year-old can endure Till’s early power, he has a realistic chance of cracking Till’s spoiling style of outside striking.

Darren Till

There are two ways to approach Till’s career at this point. On the one hand, you have a hype train with a 1-3 record over the past three years. In this record, the sole win comes against a fighter who has run a 1-5 record since 2018. Alternatively, you see a former title challenger, who took on a huge risk by facing Kelvin Gastelum when moving up a weight class. Since then, Till has gone on to lose a razor-close decision to Middleweight royalty, Robert Whittaker. The truth probably falls somewhere between the two takes.

Yes, Woodley and Masvidal knocked Till on his arse, but Till has shown a surprisingly solid chin at Middleweight. The issue instead is how Till reacts to being tagged. Already a painfully low volume fighter, when Till finds himself countered cleanly, he falls back into an even more patient single-shot approach. If he carried Woodley-esque power, that would be acceptable, but the Scouser has yet to show it. A powerful left straight can only take a fighter so far, less so when there are no set-ups. By committing hard to every combination, Till is primed for counters after opponents have spent enough time to gauge Till’s awkward length and angles. More liberal clinch work to smother inside fighting, and a frequent leg kick, at least go some way to upping his activity.

Darren Till, for all his flaws, is a difficult man to take down. While Brunson represents the greatest wrestling threat of his career to date, even the great Robert Whittaker was only able to secure 2 of 13 attempted takedowns. Till’s clear speed advantage may prove key in the pivotal early sequences of the fight. If the Liverpudlian lands early, as expected with Brunson’s style, there is no doubt he can wobble Brunson. Unfortunately for Till, he is one of the worst finishers in the sport. Allowing Robert Whittaker to recover is acceptable, he has a freakish recovery time as shown against Yoel Romero, yet it is inexcusable to not stop Nicolas Dalby and Jessin Ayari. Conditioning issues are the key behind Till’s struggles to finish. While many expected the jump up in 15lbs and a lack of hard weight cut to paper over the cracks – it doesn’t appear to have helped.

Predicted Result: Till TKO Round 1

A frustratingly difficult bout to call, more so for considering each fighters flaws rather than their skills. While it is too early to call, Brunson appears to have finally cracked the sweet spot between his striking and transitioning into his wrestling. Out-wrestling Kevin Holland isn’t too surprising, it was a stylistic nightmare for Holland, yet Brunson’s victory over Edmen Shahbazyan showcased his quality. Thriving at an uncomfortably short striking range, Brunson can land his powerful overhands and left high kick, while pursuing a takedown in the ensuing chaos. With a deep-ish gas tank, Brunson should be more than capable of beating Till on activity if he can escape the first round.

Unfortunately for Brunson, he isn’t the most composed fighter during the opening sequences. Brunson’s aggression and high chin often result in him eating heavy shots early. While he was able to shrug off a clean head kick by Ian Heinisch in the first seven seconds of their fight, more heavier-handed foes have exploited this. Till has never shown one-shot knockout quality in the UFC, but he has also dropped Whittaker early and his powerful counter straight is primed to crack Brunson. I’m listening to my heart rather than my brain here, but I’m backing Till’s early distance control and speed differential to stop an ageing Brunson early.

Result: Brunson def. Till // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3 2:13

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

After almost finishing Robert Whittaker in the first round, Darren Till failed to keep up the same intensity on the feet by the championship rounds | UFC Fight Night 191
After almost finishing Robert Whittaker in the first round, Darren Till failed to keep up the same intensity on the feet by the championship rounds | UFC Fight Night 191

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UFC Fight Night 191: Co-Main Event

Tom Aspinall (10-2) vs Sergey Spivak (13-2)

Heavyweight (265)

Tom Aspinall

For such a highly regarded prospect, Tom Aspinall almost fell at his first real career hurdle last time out. An early pressure fighter, Aspinall’s power is clearly evident. When Arlovski proved unwilling to fold under the Brit’s physical prowess, however, Aspinall appeared to run out of options on the feet. Thankfully, Aspinall’s wrestling is severely underrated (for the division) and was able to submit the heavily weathered but wily veteran. Spivak is a polar opposite fighter to Arlovski, desperate to fall upon his wrestling. Despite improvements to his striking since his UFC debut, he is still sorely limited as seen in his failure to beat a century-old Oleinik in 50/50 exchanges. With a far greater physical ceiling and a solid TDD, Aspinall can keep this fight standing and overwhelm the Moldovan. The only issue will be a propensity to burn the reserves too early and exhaust himself in the later rounds.

Sergey Spivak

Spivak is a difficult fighter to gauge. There are times when his chin is made of biscuits, crumbling under the ugly yet powerful pressure of Walt Harris, but then at times, it is able to hold up to Tuivasa’s meteor power. While Arlovski represents the striking gatekeeper at Heavyweight, Spivak represents the wrestling flavour. Without the physical advantages to overwhelm Aspinall to the mat, Spivak will have to rely on trips to get on top. Of course, Spivak could always opt to bank on his chin and ride an early storm – bridging the physical gap by virtue of his superior conditioning. It isn’t a safe call, though.

Predicted Result: Aspinall TKO Round 2

For such a highly regarded prospect, Tom Aspinall almost fell at his first real career hurdle last time out. When Arlovski proved unwilling to fold under the Brit’s physical prowess, Aspinall appeared to run out of options on the feet. Saved by his underrated wrestling (in regards to the division), Aspinall will have to return to his boxing against Spivak. Physically inferior, Spivak will struggle to take this fight to the mat early and will have to bank on his chin under early Aspinall pressure. With a far greater physical ceiling and a solid TDD, Aspinall should overwhelm Spivak without needing to burn the entire fuel reserves.

Result: Aspinall def. Spivak // TKO (elbow and punches) Round 2 2:30

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

After a naïve showing on the feet, Tom Aspinall kept the hype training rolling by falling upon his grappling | UFC Fight Night 191
After a naïve showing on the feet, Tom Aspinall kept the hype training rolling by falling upon his grappling | UFC Fight Night 191

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UFC Fight Night 191: Main Card

David Zawada (17-6) vs Alex Morono (19-7)

Welterweight (170)

David Zawada

What a horrible time it has been for Zawada since he moved to the UFC. Danny Roberts and Jingliang Li are horrific pressure strikers to look marketable against, while Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Ramazan Emeev both pose smothering wrestling threats. A durable risk-taker, Zawada takes one to give one on the feet and in the clinch. Possessing a huge frame, Zawada could out-grit Morono on the feet, but his decision to pull guard so frequently may shoot him in the foot.

Alex Morono

Relishing the chaos of a fight, Morono is happy to take risks wherever it ends up. Against Zawada, a fighter unable to lead a measured pace, Morono will have no trouble getting onto the inside and tagging the German. Morono’s volume on the outside will be an issue for Zawada, who’s defence is largely moving back in a straight line without any educated counters. Morono is vulnerable to the body, but Zawada often limits his work between head and legs.

Predicted Result: Morono Decision

In an equal fight between two risk-takers, Morono should just barely be favoured based on his volume. Zawada is the bigger physical threat, and Morono is defensively open enough for the German to exploit. Morono, however, will have more opportunities to land on Zawada. Able to string together lengthy combinations, Zawada’s inability to form educated counters and tendency to move back on a straight line will leave him eating more shots than he can return.

Result: Morono def. Zawada // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Khalil Rountree (8-5) vs Modestas Bukauskas (11-4)

Light Heavyweight (205)

Khalil Rountree

Rountree has fallen apart at the seams since his short career revival against Eryk Anders. The mythic Muay Thai Rountree was destroyed by first-round threat, Ion Cutelaba, as well as pieced apart from a surprisingly technical Marcin Prachnio. Leg kicks will be a hugely important factor behind Rountree’s success on Saturday night. Bukauskas prefers to use his range with a long jab, leaving his extended lead leg primed to be chopped. As seen against Anders, Rountree can land leg kicks successfully whether they are set up or naked.

Modestas Bukauskas

Outgunned by Jimmy Crute, Bukauskas could find himself hard done by the judges in his split decision loss to Oleksiejczuk. An awkward counter-puncher with freak length, he carries a wonderful (if rarely seen) back-foot jab that lays the foundation off which he builds combinations. His pacing and conditioning have seen huge leaps over the past few fights. Although the Lithuanian can tangle his feet when evasively back-pedalling, there has been a clear line of development over his time at the UFC. In stark contrast to Rountree, a fighter who enters the octagon with an entirely new gameplan in an attempt to find a winning formula that sticks.

Predicted Result: Bukauskas Decision

Leg kicks will be a hugely important factor behind Rountree’s success on Saturday night. Bukauskas prefers to use his range with a long jab, leaving his extended lead leg primed to be chopped. As seen against Anders, Rountree can land leg kicks successfully whether they are set up or naked. Bukauskas improvements to pacing and distance control make him the safer bet than trying to guess what form of Rountree will appear.

Result: Rountree Jr def. Baukauskas // TKO (leg kick) Round 2 2:30

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Luigi Vendramini (9-2) vs Paddy Pimblett (16-3)

Lightweight (155)

Luigi Vendramini

A relatively stern test for Pimblett’s hotly-anticipated debut in the UFC, the Brazilian is a pretty tasty underdog to back. Solid grappling chops may stop Pimblett from walking over his man as many fans expect, while he has a clear advantage on the feet. Sure, Vendramini often wades forward into danger, but Pimblett doesn’t have any form of quality counter-striking to pose a threat. If he flies out in the opening round, in a similar manner to the final round against Fares Ziam, then he could spoil the Scouser’s party.

Paddy Pimblett

The time has finally come for the gobbiest fighter at Cage Warriors to fight in the big leagues. Pimblett is clearly an entertaining grappler, whether he has exceptional BJJ is yet to be seen. Of greatest concern will be Pimblett’s uninspired striking. For a fighter so willing to engage on the feet, it is concerning that he lacks any real head movement. Still, it is through his sloppy striking and resulting chaos that Pimblett often finds his opportunity to shoot.

Predicted Result: Pimblett Decision

A relatively stern test for Pimblett’s hotly-anticipated debut in the UFC. Of greatest concern will be Pimblett’s uninspired striking. Vendramini often wades forward into danger, but Pimblett doesn’t have any form of quality counter-striking to pose a threat. If he flies out in the opening round, in a similar manner to the final round against Fares Ziam, then he could spoil the Scouser’s party. More likely, Pimblett finds a takedown in the chaos of an early exchange and rides out a fairly one-sided decision on the mat.

Result: Pimblett def. Vendramini // KO (punches) Round 1 4:25

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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UFC Fight Night 191: Preliminary Card

Ji Yeon Kim (9-3-2) vs Molly McCann (10-4)

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Ji Yeon Kim

A year out from her last fight, dropping a decision to Alexa Grasso, two years out from her last victory, a second-round TKO over Nadia Kassem, and three years from Kim’s last meaningful win – the Korean needs to kickstart her career. A patient counter-striker, Kim does very little to force opponents to engage. Her inactivity often leaves her falling to close decision losses despite educated counters. Her positioning in the cage keeps her safe, but Kim’s lack of volume will forever be a thorn in her side.

Molly McCann

A bit of a stinker of a match-up. Molly McCann has never been reached the quality that many fans had hoped for prior to her entry into the UFC. Granted, neither fighter has developed to an extent that excites. McCann will likely fall upon her wrestling, yet failed to utilise it against stronger grappler opponents such as Lara Procopio and Taila Santos.

Predicted Result: Kim Decision

A bit of a stinker of a match-up. A patient counter-striker, Kim does very little to force opponents to engage. Her inactivity often leaves her falling to close cut decisions despite her educated counters. McCann will likely fall upon her wrestling, yet failed to utilise it against stronger grappler opponents such as Lara Procopio and Taila Santos. An uninteresting toss-up.

Result: McCann def. Kim // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Jack Shore (14-0) vs Liudvik Sholinian (9-1-1)

Bantamweight (135)

Jack Shore

Now facing his third scheduled opponent, both Said Nurmagomedov and Zviad Lazishvili pulling out, Shore faces the most favourable match-up of the lot. Last time out, the Welshman earned a hard-earned split decision draw against Hunter Azure. Although Azure isn’t a home brand name, he is a powerful wrestler with dangerous hands – and was an excellent litmus test regarding Shore’s ability. Against Sholinian, Shore will have the opportunity to try a couple of new tricks on the feet.

Liudvik Sholinian

A high pressure, low volume fighter, Liudvik Sholinian is best known for his upset TUF victory over Bantamweight favourite, Mitch Raposo. At a disadvantage on the feet, technically and athletically, Sholinian will, unfortunately, be counting on his ground game against a superior tactician. The Ukrainian holds a couple of scalps over decent competition, but the levels should be apparent when facing Shore.

Predicted Result: Shore Submission Round 3

Now facing his third scheduled opponent, both Said Nurmagomedov and Zviad Lazishvili pulling out, Shore faces the most favourable match-up of the lot. Liudvik Sholinian is best known for his upset TUF victory over Bantamweight favourite, Mitch Raposo. Unfortunately for the Ukrainian, he is at a disadvantage on the feet, technically and athletically, and will have to rely on his ground game against a slicker operator.

Result: Shore def. Sholinian // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Charles Jourdain (11-3-1) vs Julian Erosa (25-9)

Catchweight (150)

Charles Jourdain

Perhaps the most frustrating fighter on the roster, Charles Jourdain always brings the heat to the octagon, even if he forgets a game plan. Setting a high pace throughout, Jourdain operates behind exotic kicks, flying knees and spinning attacks. Lacking typical orthodox power, Jourdain’s creativity stuns opponents through the surprise factor. Despite a weakness to wrestling, Erosa will likely be happy to engage in 50/50 exchanges. While a methodical, calculated gameplan behind straight shots and distance management will have Jourdain jumping and spinning aimlessly, Erosa is not that fighter.

Julian Erosa

Filling in for Lerone Murphy, after the Brit has struggled with VISA issues, Erosa as a replacement makes this a far more exciting (if less meaningful) fight. If Erosa doesn’t get caught early by a surprise Jourdain shot, he can pressure his way into the pocket and test his mettle. What Erosa needs to watch out for is the counter to the counter. Jourdain is wide open after attempting an explosive strike, yet the Canadian has a canny knack of responding immediately when tagged.

Predicted Result: Jourdain Decision

Charles Jourdain always brings the heat to the octagon. Setting a high pace throughout, Jourdain operates behind exotic kicks, flying knees and spinning attacks. Erosa needs to watch out for is the counter to the counter. Jourdain is wide open after attempting an explosive strike, yet the Canadian has a canny knack of responding immediately when tagged.

Result: Erosa def. Jourdain // Submission (D’Arce choke) Round 3 2:56

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Dalcha Lungiambula (11-2) vs Marc-Andre Barriault (12-4)

Middleweight (185)

Dalcha Lungiambula

Heavy-handed, for sure, but as a stout Middleweight, Lungiambula relies on his grinding top control. His ceiling at 185 was evident against Markus Perez, falling into a back-and-forth affair against a shockingly limited fighter. Conditioning and pacing issues raise further red flags that leave a lot to be desired.

Marc-Andre Barriault

Eh. That’s the greatest compliment one could give Barriault. The Canadian made an absolute meal of beating Abu Azaitar – a one-round striker without any nuance. Barriault is well-rounded to a brutally boring tee, perhaps finding his most effective work in the clinch. By virtue of the better gas tank and a decent-ish chin, Barriault should collect another ugly win deep into the fight.

Predicted Result: Barriault Decision

Lungiambula is a Middleweight who carries heavy hands, but his stout frame leaves him relying heavily on his grinding top control. His ceiling at 185 was evidenced by a back-and-forth war with Markus Perez. Barriault is well-rounded to a boring tee, yet by virtue of owning the better gas tank, he is best prepared to collect an ugly win deep into the fight.

Result: Barriault def. Lungiambula // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Jonathan Martinez (13-4) vs Marcelo Rojo (16-7)

Bantamweight (135)

Jonathan Martinez

Rojo represents the perfect comeback fight for a fighter whose mental needs a slight buff after a devastating knockout loss to Davey Grant. Wonderful kicks were evidenced against Thomas Almeida, yet the defensive liabilities are likely to remain throughout his career. Rojo will bring the action early, but his inability to create traps will allow Martinez to land harder and more often as the better athlete.

Marcelo Rojo

Forget the record, Marcelo Rojo is a pretty fun fighter to watch who brings the heat. In terms of unranked feeders in the UFC, he is about as much fun as you could expect. Technical deficiencies are clear upon reviewing the Jourdain fight, chasing the Canadian around the octagon and walking himself onto hard shots. His chin will struggle to hold up to Martinez power in a similar fashion.

Predicted Result: Martinez TKO Round 2

Forget the record, Marcelo Rojo is a pretty fun fighter to watch who brings the heat. Technical deficiencies are clear upon reviewing the Jourdain fight, however. While a volume heavy offence can paper over the cracks, his chin will struggle to hold up to Martinez power in a similar fashion. The perfect comeback test for Martinez who suffered a devastating knockout to Davey Grant.

Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED (Martinez missed weight) 🚫

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Prediction Accuracy

UFC FIght Night 191

Winner: 5/9

Method: 4/9

Round: 3/9

2021 MMA Season

Winner: 196/334

Method: 158/334

Round: 147/334

MMA Overall

Winner: 387/638

Method: 295/638

Round: 273/638

Takeaway comments: Too fat for Welterweight, too small for Middleweight – The Darren Till conundrum.


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